It takes a great amount of skill and talent to be an actor. But what’s even more difficult is to have the talent to play any role with believability. Playing the ultimate good in one movie, and the ultimate evil in another definitely shows the range and versatility of an actor. Only a true artist can convincingly breathe life into any given character that he is portraying without becoming a hostage of just one iconic role. Hollywood has some really iconic actors who have played both heroic as well as villainous characters to display their versatility.
We here at Fandomwire have compiled a list of 20 A-listers of Hollywood who are able to play the roles of supervillains just as convincingly as highly principled, heroic characters.
1. Sir Ian McKellen
Hero: Gandalf in Lord Of The Rings
Villain: Magneto in X-Men
Sir Ian McKellen is one of the best examples of versatility for his roles as Gandalf and Magneto in The Lord of the Rings and X-Men, though the latter is arguably considered an antihero, making the move somewhat easier.
2. Helena Bonham Carter
Hero: Queen Elizabeth in The King’s Speech
Villain: Bellatrix in Harry Potter
Helena Bonham Carter’s portrayal of Bellatrix was so iconic that she remains synonymous with that role. However, it isn’t known to many that for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in The King’s Speech, she was nominated for an Academy Award.
3. Heath Ledger
Hero: William Thatcher in A Knight’s Tale
Villain: Joker in The Batman
The late actor received global recognition for his legendary portrayal of the Joker in The Batman. However, playing a villain wasn’t the only thing he excelled at. Ledger’s character of William Thatcher from A Knight’s Tale received great acclaim from the critics.
4. Hugo Weaving
Hero: Elrond, the Half-Elven Lord of Rivendell
Villain: Agent Smith
Hugo Weaving is haunting as Red Skull and chilling as Megatron. But legends remember him for his role of Agent Smith. He’s also recognized for his positive role of Elrond, the Half-Elven Lord of Rivendell in the LOTR saga.
5. David Tennant
Hero: Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who
Villain: Kilgrave in Jessica Jones
David Tenant is one of the finest Scottish actors out there who has appeared in numerous TV series. Known most prominently for his portrayal of the Tenth Doctor in the BBC science fiction Doctor Who, Tennant surprised his fans when he took the villainous mantle of Kilgrave in Jessica Jones.
6. Gary Oldman
Hero: James Gordon in The Batman
Villain: Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg in The Fifth Element
Oldman was seen playing the main antagonist bent on destroying life on Earth in The Fifth Element. He’s more known for his comic-accurate portrayal of James Gordon, commissioner of the Gotham City Police in the Batman series
7. Anthony Hopkins
Hero: Odin in Thor
Villain: Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs
From the many roles Anthony Hopkins has played, his most iconic one remains to be Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. On the heroic aspects, Hopkins was Marvel Studios’ perfect pick for Odin
8. Christoph Waltz
Hero: Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained
Villain: Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds
Always amazing as a villain, Christoph Waltz is immensely versatile. His most prominent heroic and villainous portrayal was as Dr. King Schultz in 2012’s Django Unchained and Hans Landa in 2009’s Inglourious Basterds respectively.
9. Meryl Streep
Hero: Donna in Mamma Mia
Villain: Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada
Meryl Streep as the ruthless boss Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada could ruin anyone’s day in a minute. Quite the opposite is character her character Donna, who Streep plays in Mamma Mia!
10. Ralph Fiennes
Hero: Monsieur Gustav in The Grand Budapest Hotel
Villain: Amon Goeth in Schindler’s List
While his portrayal of The Dark Lord Voldemort remains synonymous with his name, Ralph Fiennes can be called a man of many faces. As villainously good as he was playing Amon Goeth in Schindler’s List, Fiennes aced his positive role of Monsieur Gustav in The Grand Budapest Hotel.
11. Johnny Depp
Hero: Edward Scissorhands in Edward Scissorhands
Villain: Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
With over more than 81 artistic roles that Johnny Depp has taken over, his portrayal of Edward Scissorhands in the movie by the same name stands to be very significant. He switched from scissor blades to a straight razor when he played the role of Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
12. Christian Bale
Hero: Batman in The Dark Knight
Villain: Patrick Bateman in American Psycho
He’s critically claimed to be the best Batman ever for The Dark Knight Trilogy. However, his iconic role of Partick Bateman in American Psycho earned him the image of a bad boy much before.
13. Charlize Theron
Hero: Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Villain: Ravenna in Snow White and the Huntsman
Oscar-winning actress, Charlize Theron has a career of over 20 years in Hollywood. With almost all characters important, Theron received a good amount of acclaim when she saved the day as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max. However, nobody could’ve done Ravenna better in Snow White and the Huntsman than her.
14. Joe Pesci
Hero: Vinny in My Cousin Vinny
Villain: Harry Lime in Home Alone
He’s on our screens every year before Christmas playing the unforgettable villain Harry Lime. However, when Pesci played the lead role of a good fella, Vinny, in My Cousin Vinny he was equally loved.
15. Jack Nicholson
Hero: Jack Torrance in The Shining
Villain: Randle McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
In Jack Nicholson’s career of over 60 years in Hollywood, he played some daring roles. One such role was his character of Jack Torrance in The Shining which even took the meme world by a storm (If you know). However, he’s more recognized for his academy winning performance in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,
16. Chris Evans
Hero: Steve Rodgers in Captain America
Villain: Ransom Drysdale in Knives Out
The world knows him as the star-spangled man Steve Rodgers a.k.a Captain America. He’ll always be the perfect hero for us and it’s in fact hard to imagine him as a villain. However, his character of Ransom Drysdale in Knives Out totally defies it.
17. Tom Hardy
Hero: Max Rockatansky in Mad Max: Fury Road
Villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises
Tom Hardy is one of the most versatile actors on this list. From playing the lead protagonist in Mad Max: Fury Road, to the lead antagonist of The Dark Knight Rises, he can switch personalities in a click.
18: Will Smith
Hero: John Hancock in Hancock
Villain: Deadshot in Suicide Squad
It’s honestly not easy to process a gentleman like Will Smith as the bad guy. However, he showed it in Suicide Squad that he can fit in ANY given role. On the positive aspect, he starred in the comedy film Hancock where he plays a superhero who loses his good name.
19. Angelina Jolie
Hero: Lara Croft in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Villain: Evil Fairy in Maleficent
With over 3 Golden Globes and an Academy Award in her bag, Angelina Jolie had to be on this list. One of her memorable roles was in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, where she played the lead protagonist. She nailed it as the antagonist in her Disney debut Maleficent.
20. Brad Pitt
Hero: Achilles in Troy
Villain: Tyler Durden in Fight Club
We won’t talk much about the fight club (if you know the rules). Brad Pitt played Tyler Durden, an antagonist of this movie, which is considered one of his best works to date. A totally different take towards his choice of roles was his appearance as Achilles in the historic drama Troy
Which other actor do you think should be on this list too? Tell us in the comment section below!